Empowering the next generation of leaders
When we sat down to choose Minnesota Business’s “Women Who Lead” 2018 honorees, it was important to us to celebrate all women who lead — not just those whose names are at the top of the company stationery, but also those you may not have heard of (yet) and those who lead tirelessly every day by example, supporting and empowering others. These women not only climb the ladder of success, they also lend a hand to those coming up behind them.
The reason why we selected our honorees is found in the words and phrases provided by their nominators to describe them — words like compassionate, decisive, inspiring and innovative. In short, the very definition of being a true leader.
Honoree: Kim Bartmann, CEO & Instigator, Bartmann Group
“Kim believes that well-prepared food made from ethically sourced, sustainably farmed ingredients, welcoming spaces and creative events can bring people together, support neighborhoods and catalyze a city,” says nominator Christine Weeks. Weeks says Bartmann Group gives equal weight to people, planet and profits. “Employees have access to health care and benefits. Food is prepared with ingredients grown on the Bartmann Group organic farm or sourced from local producers and purveyors. Spaces are built with an eye toward LEED specifications. And recycling and composting are standard practice,” says Weeks.
Honoree : Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, Bilingual Latin Food Culture Consultant, Chef & Author, Amalia, LLC
Amalia Moreno-Damgaard is founder of both Amalia, LLC, a consultancy firm specializing in Latin and Spanish gourmet cuisine and culture, and Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization which fosters women entrepreneurship through mentoring and leadership education. “Amalia is a talented chef and a wonderful supporter of women in business and the local community. Amalia’s passion for food and nutrition is exemplified in her work. Her success as a chef, author and bilingual presenter is an amazing leadership example,” says nominator Joni Pierce.
Honoree : Nancy Dahl, President and COO of Tastefully Simple
In addition to being president and COO of Tastefully Simple, Nancy M. Dahl is also an author, having recently published her first book called “Grounded: Leading Your Life with Intention.” The book was written to spur conversations among young and seasoned professionals about real-world challenges. “Nancy is awesome. And I am a better leader, parent, person because of her. I am not unique. Nancy has fostered strong, smart women into better leaders, better people all of her career,” says colleague Tammie Lynn. Dahl has served on the nonprofit boards of Great Twin Cities United Way and Dunwoody College of Technology, and is a self-described tomboy, gear-head-in-disguise and outdoor enthusiast, who enjoys hunting and fishing and has a
passion for motorcycles.
Honoree: Kim Brown, President, JNBA Financial Advisors
One of Kim Brown’s most notable accomplishments is her commitment to the next generation of financial advisors, says nominator Cärin Viertel. Brown formalized JNBA’s internship advancement track to cultivate tomorrow’s young talent by building a curriculum and an environment that allows them to thrive. “Over the past decade, this program has graduated 39 students from 12 universities across the U.S. This curriculum has been so successful it set an industry standard for entry-level advisors, and Kim travels across the country to share her thought leadership on bringing up today’s students to be tomorrow’s advisors,” says Viertel.
Honoree: Mary Quist-Newins, President and Founder Moneyweave, LLC
Mary Quist-Newins’ driving mission, says nominator Mary Nutting, is to improve the lives of others, particularly women and women business owners. At The American College of Financial Services, “she held the only endowed academic chair in the nation dedicated to the study of women and money,” says Nutting. Quist-Newins founded the college’s Center for Women and Financial Services, enabling groundbreaking primary research in personal finance. Today, she serves as chapter president for the National Association of Women Business Owners, Minnesota.
Honoree: Sara Ausman, Regional President, Alerus
In addition to serving as regional president of Alerus, Sara Ausman also leads the bank’s charitable giving efforts in the Twin Cities and personally is active in her community, having served on the boards of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the downtown Minneapolis YMCA. Ausman has also volunteered with the Common Bond Mentoring Program, the Minneapolis Business Partners Mentoring Program, Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.
Honoree: Nicole Middendorf, CEO, Prosperwell Financial
A wealth advisor and certified divorce financial analyst, Nicole Middendorf has authored several books, including “Lipstick on the Piggy Bank,” which helps women set up realistic financial strategies to enable a happy and fulfilled life. She is a frequent media contributor and founder of the Nicole Middendorf Foundation, which raises funds for organizations, such as the Domestic Abuse Project, Habitat for Humanity and Dress for Success.
Honoree: Beth Miller , Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Magid
As chief marketing and strategy officer for research and brand consulting firm, Magid, “Beth is always on the leading edge of her industry. She is constantly sharing her knowledge and dragging people into the future with her thinking and vision,” says one nominator. She also volunteers for Feed My Starving Children and Junior Achievement, and is an advisory board member for IdeaGist, a collaborative platform for innovators, entrepreneurs
and people who want to bring their ideas
Honoree: Shannon Knoepke, Senior Vice President, Market Manager, CBS Radio/Entercom
Shannon Knoepke joined CBS Radio in 2015. Since then, says nominator Vicki Giefer, “Shannon has solidified a heritage radio group that was perceived as stodgy, hired the right staff and made them brand ambassadors to turn the perception upside down. She’s created an environment that is collaborative and cohesive.”
Honoree: Kristine Boylan, Attorney and Shareholder, Briggs and Morgan
Kristine Boylan is a shareholder at Briggs and Morgan and co-chair of the firm’s IP Prosecution group. Practicing in the areas of trademark, trade dress, licensing, intellectual property litigation, copyrights, trade secrets, patents and related matters, Boylan was named to the 2018 Best Lawyers List, as well as the Top Women Lawyers in Minnesota. Using her experience to empower today’s — and tomorrow’s — female leaders, Kristine was a founding member of WomenVenture’s Circle of Influence networking event.
Honoree: Jessie Houlihan Bingen, President, Stahl Construction
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Services Administration, women make up 47% of the overall U.S. workforce but just 9% of the construction industry. Included in that 9% is Jessie Houlihan Bingen. Under Houlihan Bingen’s direction, Stahl focuses on evolving the built environment to create lasting good. Houlihan Bingen is active in several industry organizations and serves on the Young Leaders Executive Committee and co-chairs the Resilient Communities Product Council for the Urban Land Institute of Minnesota.
Honoree: Mariaha Dean, President, Eden Resources
Nominator Laura Karow says that Mariaha Dean has been an advocate for minority-women business owners throughout her career. “She has served as president of the Association of Women Contractors, and she is also involved in the MN Minority Goods & Services Association,” says Karow. Dean is also involved with her church and mentors young people in the minority community. “Mariaha is not only a woman who leads professionally, but also leads personally with everyone she encounters,” adds Karow.
Honoree: Madison Norris , Digital Marketing Specialist, Uponor
Madison Norris is the type of employee, says nominator Tina Gassman, who is “the first to volunteer to lend a hand and the last to leave if there’s work left to be done. In short, she shatters every negative stereotype of the millennial.” Norris served as a millennial ambassador for Uponor at a convention in Amsterdam, and is “passionate about elevating women in the workplace,” says Gassman. Norris established the program, Women Uniting People, at Uponor, coordinating networking opportunities and bringing in guest speakers to talk with employees about leadership.
Honoree: Kristin Gaarder, Vice President, Human Resources, Nilfisk
Kristin Gaarder, says one nominator, is continually working toward the best interests of her company’s employees — both men and women. “I’ve also watched her successfully push the recognition of women leaders and contributors in fields that have been historically dominated by men. She has helped countless deserving women get promotions and financial recognition they otherwise wouldn’t without her leadership support. She has coached and mentored women of all ages to perform at their best in all levels of organizations,” the nominator notes.
Honoree: Lakeisha Lee, Collaborative Coordinator, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
“Lakeisha is focused on helping our youth, motivating them to success by educating them on financial literacy,” says nominator Marquita Clardy. “She is a community volunteer, teaching youth the life skills needed to survive in our complex society.” Lee also volunteers at the St. Paul shelter Brittany’s Place, serving as an advocate for youth who are trafficked or exploited, and she serves on the Young Professionals committee for the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce. “Lakeisha is very passionate about what she is doing. …She is driven and wants to help and empower youth,” says Clardy.
Honoree: Sarah Edwards, Founder, I AM Sarah Edwards
Through the company that bears her name, Sarah Edwards creates connected brand experiences through authentic community engagement and marketing solutions. She is also the co-founder and executive of Fashion Week MN — a body-and-gender-inclusive catwalk — and CEO of the I AM Kindness project, a community-driven platform which connects millennials with opportunities to give back. A natural facilitator, she serves as brand ambassador for the dating app Bumble, and holds a seat on the advisory board of the Minnesota chapter of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.
Honoree: Kathy Pyle, Business Consultant, WomenVenture
As a business consultant for WomenVenture, an organization that helps women create profitable and sustainable businesses, Kathy Pyle consults with loan clients on accounting and operations. “I can tell that Kathy truly loves to help people starting out with their businesses,” says one nominator. She uses her experience as a small-business owner to help women manage their financial data effectively and notes that “Knowing numbers is vital to the success of small businesses,” as well as a struggle for many small-business owners.
Honoree: Ariana Feygin, Founder, Ariana's Kitchen
A philanthropist, chef and entrepreneur, Ariana Feygin’s first fundraising project was a lemonade stand. Before long, she was organizing events such as silent auctions and carnivals. To date, she has raised more than $175,000 for Pinky Swear Foundation’s efforts to support young cancer patients — and she’s just 13 years old. Recently, Feygin launched her own company, Ariana’s Kitchen, and donates a percentage of profits from her culinary products to philanthropic causes. “Arianna is an amazing and talented young woman. Seeing what she has done for the community at such a young age makes me feel very comfortable the world will be in good hands in the future,” says Mike Moroz, Pinky Swear Foundation board member.
Honoree: Jill Wiedemann-West, CEO, People Incorporated
As CEO of People Incorporated, a community-based provider of mental health services, Jill Wiedemann-West “has played an undeniable role in reshaping how our community treats mental health and related conditions,” says Jim Olson. “In doing so, she has inspired her colleagues, her community and now the entire country to approach mental health treatment in an integrated manner to improve outcomes.” Under Wiedemann-West’s leadership, Olson says the organization “has not only been able to stay one step ahead of the changing health care environment, but it’s also been able to deliver on its mission of supporting mental health and wellness in our community through collaboration and integration of care.”
Honoree: Emily Paul, Director of Programs, The Good Acre
Lauren Mehler Pradhan says Emily Paul has transformed The Good Acre into “a thought leader in the way that sustainable agriculture and serving agricultural communities can drive a broader conversation on the food system.” Through Paul’s efforts, The Good Acre boasts a food incubator kitchen serving 20-plus food startups, a 450-member Farm Share program and warehouse space that supports underserved farming communities. She also created the Maker to Market program in partnership with LakeWinds Co-op, a first-of-its-kind accelerator that connects farmers
to food startups and retail distribution.
Honoree: Amanda LaGrange, CEO, Tech Dump
Amanda Lagrange is one of the youngest leaders in the electronics recycling industry nationally and locally. “In her first year as CEO, she corrected Tech Dump’s business model from a net loss to a $100,000 annual surplus,” says nominator Christine Weeks. Lagrange employs an underrepresented and marginalized workforce, the previously incarcerated, to provide work and a chance for economic growth while tackling responsible consumption and production. “She is someone who’s changing the face of the previously incarcerated, creating a pathway to independence for our program participants,” adds a second nominator, Adriana Alejandro-Osiro.
Honoree: Sharry Schmid, President, Edina Realty
As president of Edina Realty Home Services, Sharry Schmid provides guidance, mentorship and direction to the company’s 75 sales offices and more than 2,400 realty agents. Says nominator Gena Henrich, “Sharry sees how complex today’s real estate business is, and she is passionate about making sure Edina Realty agents are empowered with the tools and resources they need to navigate it. …Her experience has given her unique insight into the demands on real estate agents to provide technology, expertise and round-the-clock support to their clients in an increasingly complex and competitive industry.”
Honoree: Julie Kimble, Founder, KimbleCo
Julie Kimble launched KimbleCo in 2014. Before that she was vice president/general manager at Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions and served as vice president at the commercial real estate development firm Opus. She is also a planning commissioner for the city of Roseville, has served on the board of directors for Feed My Starving Children and was past national chair of the CREW Foundation.
Honoree: Kate Gillette, Vice President and Commercial Real Estate Advisor, Avison Young
Nominator Christine Weeks notes that only about one-third of commercial real estate executives are female and Kate Gillette is one of them. In her work, Gillette has established a practice working with nonprofits, many of them benefiting women. Also, Gillette has a long history of volunteering in the community. She has served as a graduation coach for Achieve Minneapolis and founded the Women’s Committee at the Minneapolis Club to bring together women of all ages to share, learn, inspire and build a community within the organization.
Honoree: Ilhan Omar, State Representative Minnesota House of Representatives
When Ilhan Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, she became the highest-elected Somali-American public official in the U.S. Omar fled Somalia’s civil war as a child and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before immigrating to the U.S. with her family. “Ilhan is a hard-charging, glass-ceiling-breaking, fearless leader. She has been a beacon of hope during an especially tumultuous time. She stands ready, in front of the community, whenever our values come under attack. She has inspired so many up-and-coming young leaders to aspire to be something bigger, to dream bigger and reach for the sky,” says nominator Koshin Jimcali.
Honoree: Mindee Kastelic, Vice President of Strategic Development, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
Mindee Kastelic is vice president of strategic development for the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, and for the better part of 2017, she was also its interim president. She is a board member of the American Lung Association of Minnesota, a steering committee member of St. Paul Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, and a member of TeamWomenMN, an organization that mentors and leads other women to success.
Honoree: Alyssa Siems Roberson, Communications Director, Office of Senate Minority Leader State of Minnesota
At the Office of Senate Minority Leader, Alyssa Siems Roberson’s ability to communicate clearly and respond quickly under pressure are keys to her success. Nominator Amelia Cerling Hennes says Roberson also “serves as a mentor to countless people from interns to full-time staff, and is willing to take the concerns of many subordinates and bring them to leadership to address.”
Honoree: Emma Corrie, Director of Strategic and Workforce Initiatives, Governor’s Office
While at the Department of Transportation, Emma Corrie organized a collaborative of community leaders to increase diversity goals. “Under her leadership, MNDOT was able to increase its percentage of workforce diversity. Emma is definitely a mentor in the sense of opening doors for people to access opportunities,” says Hyon Kim. “Her passion for diversity in our life together, to offer methods for transforming systems, is central to her.”
Honoree: Jennifer Carnahan, Chairman, Republican Party of Minnesota
Jennifer Carnahan began her work in the corporate world, working in marketing for corporations such as General Mills and Swarvoski before leaving to launch a string of specialty boutiques in Minneapolis. In addition to her entrepreneurial ventures, she ran for the Minnesota Senate and was elected as Republican State Party Chairman for Minnesota in 2017. Carnahan helped found the National Association of Asian MBA's Twin Cities Chapter, founded the Asian Employee Network at Ecolab and has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Junior League of Minneapolis and the Salvation Army.
Honoree: Alissa Henriksen, Principal/Owner, Grey Search + Strategy
At just 35 years old, Alissa Henricksen has founded three successful companies, including Grey Search & Strategy, an executive search and recruiting firm. “Alissa battled auditory dyslexia as a child and into college, but overcame this difficult disability by teaching herself unique study habits and concentration tools — along with working extremely hard through extra studying and repetition,” says nominator Chad Tepley. She now serves on the board of the International Dyslexia Association, and is on the board of the Minnesota State Chamber, as well as a member of its executive group.”
Honoree: Jan Lehman , Executive Coach, Performance Coach, CTC Productivity
Lehman was nominated by three of her coaching clients, who all agree that she knows how to get results. “She has a talent for quickly identifying strengths, weaknesses and realistic areas for improvement,” says Michael Opack. Nominator Douglas Brown says working with Lehman has increased his firm’s overall efficiency by at least 30%, saying “As a result, not only are we more productive, the work environment is more pleasant, and employees are much happier.” Adds Nicholas Micheletti, “She is exceedingly competent, professional and eminently deserving of this honor.“
Honoree: Lynette Stolarzyk, Principal, Midwest Area International Tax Leader, Baker Tilly
Nominator Jeffrey DeYoung says Lynette Stolarzyk was instrumental in implementing two of the business consulting firm’s priorities: establishing a global mobility program for U.S. companies with employees overseas and creating Baker Tilly’s Center for the Return of Manufacturing, a resource for businesses navigating the changing manufacturing landscape. She also mentors young women as a troop leader for Girl Scouts. “She has seen firsthand what this organization can do for young women as they mature and eventually enter the professional world,” says DeYoung.
Honoree: Sue Hawkes, CEO, YESS!
“Sue Hawkes is a leader who inspires and lifts up others through both her work and her personal example,” says nominator Ali Steiglbauer. “She helps businesses maximize their people, purpose and profit so they can have a larger, more positive impact in the world.” In addition to being CEO of YESS!, Hawkes founded the Minnesota chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization 15 years ago, which has the largest membership in the world.
Honoree: Aimee Goldberg, CEO/Partner, Benchmark Reporting Agency
Having grown up in an entrepreneurial household, Aimee Goldberg was destined to become an entrepreneur herself, says nominator Eva Keiser. “Her entrepreneurial mindset led her to buy the business from her stepfather shortly after joining the firm,” says Keiser. Keiser says Goldberg is one of more than 17,000 individuals in the Twin Cities with multiple sclerosis. “She lives daily with the challenges of the disease that attacks the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve through the immune system and is committed to helping others live with the disease,” spending much of her free time raising money for research.
Honoree: Anna Connealy, Vice President of Customer Experience, FISION
A former Division 1 college athlete at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Anna Connealy volunteers as a swim coach for Special Olympics Minnesota and is a creative contributor for The Foundation for the Children of Iran (FCI), an organization that helps arrange life-altering treatment for Iranian children who would otherwise face death or diminished quality of life. Nominator Jason Mitzo says Connealy is also involved with Beta.MN, the Minnesota High Tech Association and MPLS Madwomen, an organization that aims to bridge the gender gap in the creative community.
Honoree: Heather Hoskins, Controller, GeoComm, Inc.
“There is no one within the company who embodies our mission and does more than Heather. Heather is the glue that keeps the company together. She is exceptionally effective at her position, managing everything, including accounting, HR, IT, contract management and overall business administration,” says nominator John Bryant. “She is a key driver of community engagement within the company [and] leads by example on such efforts as raising money for the United Way, YMCA [and] volunteering at the Salvation Army.”
Honoree: Sarah (Hartman) Mixdorf, Director, Legal Solutions, EPIQ Systems, Inc.
In addition to her work as director of legal solutions at EPIQ, Sarah Mixdorf, says nominator Cheryl Siemering, is the president of the recently launched Twin Cities chapter of Ellevate, a global network that believes in the positive impact of women in business. “Sarah, along with fellow officers, is on a mission to create a powerful, connected local network to provide professional resources, insight, and support to the Twin Cities members,”says Siemering.
Honoree: Liz Nelson, Director of Product Development, Wolfnet Technologies
As the director of product development for Wolfnet Technologies, Liz Nelson’s focus is on strategizing for the future of WolfNet’s suite of products. Her role includes project execution, resource management, training and process development. “Even with a tremendous amount of responsibilities on her plate she always has time to help others with their projects and professional development. She is driven to succeed and to set up others to do the same,” says nominator Ryan Nelson.
Health Care & Wellness
Honoree : Wendy Wiesman, Senior Director, Brand and Engagement Marketing Blue Cross Blue Shield
“Anyone who has ever met Wendy knows what an amazing leader she is,” says nominator Megan Effertz. “She inspires teams, is full of energy, has a genuine interest in people and is never short on ideas.” Case in point: Wiesman also cofounded
DateNiteTC, a business designed to curate personalized experiences for groups, couples and friends interested in upping their “happiness quotient,” while discovering up-and-coming social experiences in Minnesota. Events and app prototypes are in development.
Honoree: Sarah Moe, CEO, Sleep Health Specialists
“Sarah has spent her career in sleep medicine bringing awareness to the importance of sleep while simultaneously helping our Minnesota business community and workforce be their happiest and best selves through sleep health education,” says nominator Amee McDonald. Moe is a regular contributor to WCCO’s “Get Movin’ Monday” and is on the board of directors for the Minnesota Sleep Society. In addition, she volunteers on the educational products committee for the American Association of Sleep Technologists.
A St. Olaf College alumni and graduate of the Carlson Executive MBA program at the University of Minnesota, Kristi Ball is accountable for all operations and patient care of more than 115 beds and 450 full-time employees at Bethesda Hospital. “Kristi leverages her education and experience in health care and leadership to develop new leaders in the industry. She mentors MBA students, as well as her subordinate leaders, helping them grow professionally,” says nominator Robert Ball.
Honoree: Heidi Heiland, CEO/Owner Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens, and GrowHaus
“Heidi has built an incredible company over the last 20 years. She recently moved and purchased an existing landscape business. She is a master gardener with a big client list and now has a retail shop, leads classes and workshops, is on KARE 11 once a month and so much more,” says nominator Brooks Chandler. “She has continued to grow the business exponentially over the years with her leadership.”
Honoree: Diana Hernandez-Hutton, Owner, Perfect Ash
“Diana is a former Mexican attorney who immigrated to Minnesota obtaining her master’s degree in law. She became a pioneer by purchasing the only female-owned cigar lounge in the state,” says Lee Hutton. She has further counseled women, says Hutton “how to compete in a man’s world by learning the art of cigars and scotch while wearing high-heeled shoes. She is a wife, mother, and successful lawyer and business owner.”
Honoree: Daphne April Jalteco , Owner, Daphne’s Dollhouse
Entrepreneur and former Miss Minnesota Latina Daphne April Jalteco received numerous nominations from friends and colleagues who are inspired by her leadership. The first in her family to attend college, Jalteco also founded the online retail beauty store Daphne’s Dollhouse. As Miss Minnesota Latina, she used her platform to promote higher education and donated hundreds of dollars of school supplies to schools in Oaxaca, Mexico. “She is a true inspiration to many teens such as myself, and motivates others to pursue their dreams,” says nominator Selena Romero.
Honoree: Susan Crow, Owner, Fourth Street Jewelery
“Susan has taken a leading role as a change-maker in the jewelry industry,” says nominator William Metz. “Through the use of social media, board memberships and activism, she has become a nationally recognized leader in transforming the industry from one that has had an extremely negative impact on not only our natural resources but on the people all along the supply chain from earth to store.” Metz adds that, “Leading from where she stands with influence, passion and unimpeachable ethics, she has almost singlehandedly moved the industry.”
Honoree: Tracy Call, Founder & Owner Media Bridge Advertising
“Tracy has coached and mentored countless young entrepreneurs and small businesses on the road to success, helping several companies achieve coveted spots on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. She has also used her signature leadership skills, vast experience and expertise to groom local talent in the Twin Cities,” says nominator Pam Kosanke. “Simply put, Tracy is a steadfast leader through and through who cares deeply about using her marketing powers for good, and her clients and team (staff) love her for it.”
Honoree: Jen Bellmont, Partner/Chief Operating Officer, Bellmont Partners
“PR pro. Chief operating officer. Human resources director. IT manager. Staff accountant. Office manager. Professional pianist. Jen Bellmont wears more hats than the average leader,” says nominator Shelli Lissick. As partner and COO of the public relations firm Bellmont Partners, Bellmont spearheaded the initiative Bellmont Gives Back. Through the program, employees can dedicate up to five hours per month to help organizations that mean the most to them, from taking time to donate blood and volunteering at their kids’ schools to serving on nonprofit boards. In 2017, Bellmont Partners team members contributed more than 717 volunteer hours.
Honoree: Kathleen Carter, SVP, Business Development & Client Strategy Archway Marketing Services
“Kathleen is one of those women who truly solves business problems for her clients and in the process of doing so transforms the way businesses operate,” says one nominator. “She’s always pushing the innovation envelope and is able to rally employees to think differently to deliver to clients products that make meaningful impacts.” Carter developed Archway’s gift-card-distribution business line, which distributes more than half of all the gift cards in North America.